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  • Robena

5 Ways to Beat the Grocery Store Game

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

The “Grocery Store Game” is what I like to call the psychological marketing tricks that supermarkets use to keep us spending more time and money in their grips. It’s a game that many of us didn’t even know we were playing.

In my previous post (here), I highlighted some of the less-than-obvious ways that we were being manipulated. If you don’t know me, I am VERY competitive; so as promised, I have returned with some handy-dandy tips for you to beat them at their own game!

Without further ado, here are 5 ways you can make your next trip to the supermarket more successful:

1. Make a list

This is something we have all heard before. However, it is worth repeating because it’s arguably the most important tip and I’m not convinced that many people use it.

To make a list, think about what kind of snacks and meals you will want to eat in the coming days. What ingredients or items do you need to make them? And which of those items do you already have at home?

Granted, these steps can seem like a lot of work if you aren’t accustomed to it, but I promise you, it’s worth it. Not only will it help you stay within budget when you make your purchases, but it will reduce food waste in the long run and this also saves you money. Check out this post if you want more tips on reducing household food waste.

I like using the Notes app on my phone; its List function is truly a godsend as you can check off items on the list as you add things to your shopping cart. If you prefer the old-fashioned method, a pen and paper will also do the trick!

By having a list and focusing on the items on it, you are less likely to get distracted by the sights and smells that entice you into adding extra things to your cart.

2. Go when you are fed

I don’t know about you, but if I step into a grocery store when I’m hungry, it’s impossible for me to stick to my list. Everything is inviting and I become more vulnerable to the store’s marketing ploys.

Freshly-baked croissants that smell heavenly? Yes please!

Free samples that make me want to purchase that item? Why not?!

On-sale ice cream that makes me dream of dessert later? Duh!

By ensuring that you are already full and satisfied before entering the store, you are less likely to get reeled in by these marketing distractions.

3. Go when you have energy

Building off the previous point, it also helps to go when you have energy. As an extreme introvert, walking into a crowded grocery store can feel difficult if I’m not in the right frame of mind or if I’m particularly tired.

When you're tired, you may not be as alert or committed to sticking to your list, and this can prompt unintentional purchases.

4. Know that sales aren’t mandatory purchases

I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but just because an item is on sale, doesn’t mean that you need it! If it’s something you have wanted and would’ve purchased anyway, then by all means, go for it. But don’t get sucked in by a deal that you won’t end up using.

Sales are amazing for non-perishable items like toilet paper or canned food, so definitely take advantage of those!

With perishable food items that are on sale, however, make sure you have a plan for consumption before purchasing so that it doesn’t end up just being wasted food and money.

5. Be aware of checkout distractions

Those chocolate bars and random knick-knacks that are by the checkout counter aren’t there by coincidence; they are strategically placed.

You get through your shopping list so you join the long queue to checkout. No one enjoys waiting in line. It’s boring. You look around and what do you see? A chocolate bar. Mmm that looks good. What the hell, it’s only $1.50. Into your cart it goes!

Now, let me just say that if you want a chocolate bar, GO FOR IT. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating the foods that you love.

The take-away here is simply to be aware that these products are intentionally placed to provoke impulse purchases.


I hope these tips help and I would love to hear what YOU do to have more successful trips to the grocery store. Feel free to comment below! :)

Stay nourished my friends,


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